Asian Games 'a golden opportunity'
Hosting the Asian Games will help Hong Kong become one of the world's big cities, said sports chief Timothy Fok Tsun-ting, who called on the government to show the ambition to move the city forward.
'The Asian Games is not only for the sports community, it is for the city as a whole,' Fok said yesterday. 'If we want to live up to the expectations as Asia's world city, we have to stage an international-standard event and the Asian Games fits the bill.
'You can look at the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008, the World Expo in Shanghai and the forthcoming Guangdong Asian Games; these are major events that help lift the city to a higher level,' said Fok, who is president of the Hong Kong Olympic Committee.
With the deadline for a letter of intent for the 2019 or 2023 Asian Games bid approaching, the government is finalising a venue requirement study before submitting it to the Legislative Council for the financial resources, believed to exceed HK$10 billion.
The amount is on top of the budget for building the Kai Tak Sports Complex, which will cost another HK$5 billion for a 45,000-seat major stadium and an indoor sporting arena. It is scheduled to open in 2018.
Fok said he would meet the government soon to work out details on the required budget, but did not want to estimate how much it would need to host the Games.
The deadline for submitting the letter of intent has been postponed to June 30 at the request of the Olympic committee. So far only Taiwan has indicated it would bid for both Games in 2019 and 2023. Singapore, New Delhi and Kuala Lumpur are also said to be interested.
'We know hosting the Games will cost a lot of money, especially on the construction of venues, but we can use cost-effective methods. Hong Kong is a world financial centre with the headquarters of a lot of big corporations. We can work hand in hand with the business sector for such a big project,' he said.
'Also, we do not need to build state-of-the-art facilities. We need venues that can meet the minimum requirements for the Games. A lot of districts are planning community sports facilities and we can see how these facilities can be upgraded to the Games level.'
Fok cited the example of Laos, which hosted the 25th Southeast Asian Games in Vientiane last December. 'They are not a big country, but they made use of whatever resources they had to stage the Games. If a country like Laos can do it, there is no way we cannot host the Asian Games,' he said.
Because of the limited sports facilities in Vientiane and Laos' lack of a coastline, only 28 disciplines were featured in the programme compared with 43 in Thailand in 2007.
'I remember what JFK once said about the United States' space adventure - they did it not because it was easy, they did it because it was hard,' Fok said. 'The Asian Games will be the same for us and I strongly believe we have all the qualities to host a successful Games.'